Most avid runners will experience moderate to serious injuries at some point in their active careers. Those injuries come in many forms: overuse injuries like tendonitis, shin splints, osteoarthritis in the knees, or maybe even chronic back pain. Sometimes it just hurts all over. Many of these injuries require only rest, while others will leave you home in bed until you can see a doctor, find treatment, and heal properly. To keep from doing lasting damage, you will want to seek medical attention for more serious injuries — like back pain — right away.
Of course, back pain can be nothing. Many people experience back pain the same as they would a headache — something that comes and goes with no obvious cause. But if you think you were injured while running, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
There are a few different causes of back pain, which usually strikes in the lower regions of the back. They include, facet joint irritation, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, weak back muscles, or stressed myofascial trigger points. Most often, a combination of these conditions creates a cascade effect that results in the pain. But what does each type of pain mean?
Facet joint irritation occurs because of certain types of physical activities that result in a “hollow” space in your lower back between the vertebrae. When you combine the hollow space with weakened abdominal muscles, you get inflamed joints. What can you do about it? You can walk into a musculoskeletal care office like Long Island Spine Med, or you can go about it the old-fashioned way: do plenty of sit-ups and push-ups until you develop a stronger core.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction occurs when the pressure on one joint (there are two) exceeds the pressure put on the other joint on a routine basis. This occurs most often when you land harder on one foot than the other, something which most runners have to train themselves not to do — and if your pain fits into this category, then guess what: you do too!
We usually run to strengthen our lower body and increase lung and heart fitness levels. But unfortunately, a weak back can lead to back pain wherever there are weakened muscles. When combined with weak abdominal muscles, the stress on the spine becomes even greater. In other words, a weakened back requires targeted exercises to strengthen those muscles, but also to increase abdominal muscle mass.
Have you ever cramped up at the exact moment you needed to put your body into overdrive — like at the end of an ultramarathon? Myofascial trigger points get excited when your weaker lower back muscles can’t handle the increased stress of the day, which results in terrible cramping. If cramps are the source of your lower back pain, you can generally do one of two things to reduce the chance of a recurrence: one, drink plenty of water. And two, strengthen your abdominal and lower back muscles. Have you noticed the trend in our advice?